For the Birds Radio Program: Blue Jay Television Preferences (Placeholder)

Original Air Date: Aug. 2, 1991

What’s a baby Blue Jay’s favorite TV show? 4:22

Audio missing


Every now and then it occurs to me that I really don’t have the foggiest idea what constitutes good taste. It’s not that I have bad taste—I’m afraid my problem is that I have no taste at all. Sophisticated friends disparage musical groups and movies and television shows, intimating that anyone worthwhile of course shares their opinion. The problem for me is that half the time I’ve never heard of the musical group, my favorite movies range from The Untouchables to the old Clifton Webb flick, Stars and Stripes Forever, and I don’t watch much TV.

Not watching TV is of course its own kind of snobbish statement, so I better put the record straight. Every Saturday morning I get up at 6:30 and watch Bullwinkle. Every Thursday night when it’s not a rerun I watch L.A. Law, and I also occasionally catch The Wonder Years and Northern Exposure. I have trouble staying awake during Saturday Night Life, so we tape it to watch on Sunday morning. None of my friends blessed with good taste seem to object to these programs, finding even Bullwinkle rather trendy, so I let them assume I’m one of them. When it comes to my favorite program—a program that I virtually never miss—well, I just keep that one a secret. How could I ever admit to my friends, and my fellow children of the 60s, that every Saturday night I gather my kids around the TV set and tune into reruns of The Lawrence Welk Show?

Actually, I never forced my children to watch the Champagne music maker. They drifted into the TV room one by one and found themselves mesmerized. This proves either that lack of taste is a genetically transmitted characteristic or that even children of the 90s cam enjoy a make-believe pastel world where everyone sings and dances and plays instruments and smiles. My husband, who finds even Coca Cola too sweet for his taste, always manages to be in a different room during The Lawrence Welk Show, but apparently four out of five Ericksons like it just swell.

All this would have remained my own dark little secret, and your faith in my good taste might have continued unabated, except that during the past couple of Saturdays, I have unearthed incontrovertible evidence that baby Blue Jays, too, enjoy The Lawrence Welk Show. They sit on laps or perch on shoulders and bob their heads back and forth following Welk’s baton, and seem mystified when the camera angle changes and the baton disappears. They study Bobby and Sissy dancing around the ballroom floor. Dancing is hardly a characteristic Blue Jay behavior, but the sheer novelty of happy feet seems to delight them. They fluff their feathers in a calm sort of way when the Lennon Sisters harmonize. They sit up tall and erect their little crests when Jo Ann Castles hammers her ragtime piano. Sometimes my five-year-old son Tommy dances like a maniac at the lively music. Little jays like that, too. They fly up from his shoulders and whir around and around the room, and then land on top of the TV set to check out what Jo Ann Castles looks like upside down. Norma Zimmer’s soprano or Joe Feeney’s Irish tenor voice calms them, and they nestle into our hands and close their eyes. They never blanch at the hokey production numbers—the music, color, movement, and pleasant feelings are all they care about. Blue Jays apparently have no taste, either.

Blue Jays don’t pay much attention to TV news, although when Mario Cuomo was interviewed on Face the Nation a couple of weeks ago, Sneakers kept trying to perch on his shoulder. I couldn’t tell if Sneaks liked the sound of Cuomo’s voice or simply thought the line of his suite jacket looked like a solid surface.

For some reason, my Blue Jays pretty much ignore nature programs. These little orphans are caught up in a clash of cultures, but for now they don’t seem to mind. Perhaps when they grow up, they’ll tell their sophisticated Blue Jay friends jokes about being subjected to The Lawrence Welk Show as children, and never ever admit that once upon a time, they enjoyed it, too.